3 Dec 2023 6:52 AM GMT
The Madras High Court recently observed that when special rules for recruitment to a particular post, had already granted a five-year age relaxation to candidates belonging to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, further relaxation under the General rules was impermissible.The Court was seized of appeals by the State, challenging an order of a single bench which had set aside the...
The Madras High Court recently observed that when special rules for recruitment to a particular post, had already granted a five-year age relaxation to candidates belonging to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, further relaxation under the General rules was impermissible.
The Court was seized of appeals by the State, challenging an order of a single bench which had set aside the cancellation of the appointment of some individuals to the post of “cook” under the Adi Dravidar Welfare Department. In doing so, the single bench extended the maximum age limit for application from 35 years to 40 years for candidates belonging to the SC/ST community.
In allowing the appeal, a division bench of Justice SM Subramaniam and Justice R Kalaimathi observed that such relaxation was beyond the scope of judicial review and the courts could not extend such age limits fixed by the employer under the statutory rules.
“When the Special Rules contemplate age limit specifically by providing extension of five years to the candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, further extension of five years of age limit under the General Rules is impermissible and the General Rules, in such circumstances, would have no application,” the court observed.
It was argued by State counsel that the post of 'Cook' fell under the Special Rules for Tamil Nadu Basic Service and prescribed qualification and age limit for appointment by direct recruitment. The state further submitted that as per the Special rules, the age limit fixed for the General Category was 30 years and for SC/ST candidates was 35 years.
The state also brought to the court's attention Section 68 of the Tamil Nadu Government Servants (Conditions of Service) Act, 2016, which was the statutory/general rule governing the appointment of government servants in the state of Tamil Nadu.
According to Section 68 of the aforesaid Act, if any provision of the Act is inconsistent with the Special Rules applicable to a particular service, in this case, the Special Rules for Tamil Nadu Basic Service, then the Special Rules would prevail.
Thus, the State contended that the single judge had erred in extending the age limit to 40 years since the same would result in discrimination against other eligible candidates.
The candidates, on the other hand, relied on Section 20(8)(i) of the Act which provides an extension of the age limit of five years, and contended that the age limit fixed under the Special Rules could be extended to 40 years under the statute.
Relying on Section 18 of the Tamil Nadu Adi-Dravidar Welfare Subordinate Service Rules, it was submitted that in respect of posts to which minimum general educational qualification or any lower qualification was prescribed, the age limit shall be increased by 5 years for SC/ST candidates, due to such statutory stipulation.
Thus, it was argued that there was no infirmity in the order of the single judge.
Upon hearing the parties, the court observed that in the event of an inconsistency between the special rules and the general rules, the rules had to be interpreted holistically to ensure that no discrimination was caused to the prospective candidates.
In the present case, the court noted that the Special Rules had already provided for an age relaxation of five years to candidates belonging to the SC/ST category as per the recruitment notification and that there was no scope for further relaxing the age limit under the General rule.
The appeals were accordingly allowed.
Counsel for the Appellants: Mr.Veera Kathiravan Additional Advocate General assisted by Mr.M.Lingadurai Special Government Pleader
Counsel for the Respondent: Mr. H. Mohammed Imran for M/s.Ajmal Associates
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (mad) 378
Case Title: State of Tamil Nadu v K Parvathy
Case No: WA (MD) No. 416 of 2023 (batch cases)